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Similar views on GM crops and food within families and groups of friends

25 March 2019 - Researchers at IAMO and the Czech University of Life Sciences have published a study on acceptance of genetically modified crops and foods in the online journal PLOS ONE. The focus of the research is upon the extent to which attitudes towards genetic modification in the agri-food sector correlate or diverge within private networks.

Years of discussion and the exchange of information on GM crops and food have by no means resulted in the emergence of a consensus amongst consumers regarding the technology. Opinions are widely divided on the extent to which the state should intervene, for example via mandatory labelling of GM foods and the regulation of production and trade with regard to the superfood tomato, genetically modified maize, soy bean, tobacco or canola. However, within the circles of family and friends the differences are not so marked. This is the conclusion drawn recently in the study published by researchers Stephan Brosig (IAMO) and Miroslava Bavorova (Czech University of Life Sciences). According to this, young adults in Russia, Czech Republic and Ukraine are more in agreement within their private networks, in particular with parents and friends, than with the average of their societies. Agreement with parents and friends is greater for young women than young men and is stronger with mothers than with friends, probably also than with fathers. In Ukraine the consensus within family and friends networks is less distinct than is the case in Russia and Czech Republic. The differences that remain are such that young adults tend to have a more positive view of the technology than their parents. This indicates that social acceptance of the new technology does not alter at an even pace, instead there are pioneer groups which – in keeping with the network effects identified – may motivate other groups to follow, but may also be slowed down in their acceptance by more sceptical groups.

The acceptance and ethical evaluation of biotech food by consumers is the subject of a number of research projects at IAMO.

Brosig, Stephan; Bavorova, Miroslava (2019): Association of attitudes towards genetically modified food among young adults and their referent persons. PLoS ONE 14(2): e0211879. Download